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IBC2010: TV’s real innovations originate from the gaming industry

15 октября 2010

Last month, we attended the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC2010) in Amsterdam, in what has become an annual visit for us to keep up to date with the latest developments in the broadcasting industry.

The only developments that were revolutionary, rather than evolutionary, were concerned with a long-neglected, yet critical, part of the ecosystem. The TV remote control used in most homes has barely changed since infrared remote controls were invented in the 1980s. At IBC2010, we saw a proliferation of new ways to control the TV, mostly influenced by developments in the parallel industry of gaming:

  • Philips showcased its uWand remote control technology, which enables consumers to point and click at the TV screen, mirroring what Nintendo’s Wii Remote has done for gaming.
  • PrimeSense, which supplies the technology behind Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 “controller-free gaming and entertainment experience” (due to be launched in November 2010), gave us a demonstration in which the TV was controlled through gestures. A sophisticated 3D sensor that can be mounted on the TV screen replaces the remote control device.
  • Various vendors, including Samsung, have launched TV remote applications that can be used on a range of touchscreen devices, such as the iPod Touch, the iPhone or the iPad.

Otherwise, we witnessed a progression and an acceleration of the key trends that emerged during the previous conventions in 2008 and 2009. Key vendors across the value chain continue to focus on enabling the management and delivery of any type of video content, regardless of its origin, to any connected device either inside or outside the home, and facilitating its consumption through enhanced user interfaces.

Examples of products and services highlighted at the show include the following:

  • Set-top box vendor Pace supplies US satellite pay-TV operator DIRECTV with its Whole-Home DVR, which enables subscribers to watch video content stored on its hard drive on a TV and up to 14 additional TVs via compatible HD set-top boxes, thus eliminating the need for multiple DVRs within the home.
  • Amino showcased its Freedom hybrid set-top box, which is to be launched in the final quarter of 2010. Powered by an Intel Atom processor, it includes a DVB-T (digital terrestrial television) tuner, a 500GB hard drive, media centre functionality, Ethernet and USB ports, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Because it supports a multitude of Internet formats, it enables viewers to consume a combination of broadcast and broadband content on the TV set.
  • News Corporation subsidiary NDS has enhanced the Snowflake user interface we first saw at the IPTV World Forum in London in March 2009. The interface is now DLNA certified, and incorporates social networking capabilities. Portuguese cable operator Zon Multimedia is trialling Snowflake, and UPC Broadband will begin to deploy it in 2011.
  • Orca Interactive has been improving Compass, fine-tuning its mix of algorithms to enhance the accuracy and range of its content recommendations, while extending its reach to the PC and the mobile. The new Compass Trax module enables consumers to access content according to a variety of preferences, such as a desire to see which content is most popular, what their friends are watching, which special offers are available or what is most relevant to them.

One of the other key developments is the emergence of the ‘fourth screen’ within consumer homes. The launch of Apple’s iPad in April 2010 has reinvigorated the market for tablets, which had been a niche market for several decades. The sudden appetite for tablets is leading players across the value chain to assess how best to integrate this additional screen within an already complex three-screen environment.

Cesar Bachelet, Analysys Mason’s Senior Analyst


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